Though computers may be a part of everyday life for many students in Western countries, computers—and the opportunities they present—are rare in many parts of Africa. Those schools that do have computers tend to rely on older models. So rare is such access to technology that many people have little knowledge of how to use the computer and take advantage of basic word processing and spreadsheet software or the Internet.
African Wildlife Foundation (through its Classroom Africa program), together with the Annenberg Foundation, built a brand-new IT lab for the Manyara Ranch Primary School in rural Tanzania. Over the course of a few months in 2011, a former classroom was converted into a lab with 40 new Internet-accessible computers. In addition to computers, AWF initiated several infrastructure improvements to accommodate the needs of keeping and running high-end technology. And because most teachers did not know how to operate computers, a two-week training seminar was held to instruct and prepare educators ahead of teaching the students. AWF also incorporated conservation curriculum and continues to provide school supplies.
The computer lab makes it possible for students to learn, use and refine information technology skills that are invaluable for advancing their formal education and future prospects. Teachers and students alike now have access to a breadth and depth of learning resources, allowing them to expand their knowledge of Africa’s wildlife and wild lands. Connecting technology with conservation education is key to ensuring Africa’s future generations grow up to be stewards of Africa’s natural resources.
Access to information will be critical in coming years if conservation is to continue across the African continent. The educational opportunities presented by new information allow people to pursue new non-traditional careers that don’t rely on agriculture or other unsustainable enterprises. Additionally, if future generations are to compete in the global marketplace, education is essential. AWF remains committed to connecting Africans to the world and the Manyara Ranch IT Lab is one of many steps AWF is taking to ensure education and information are available to communities in Africa.
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